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WMJ. 2006 Jul;105(5):26-31.

Pediatricians' approach to obesity prevention counseling with their patients.

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  • 1University of Washington, Department of Pediatrics, Seattle, WA, USA.



The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued a primary pediatric obesity prevention policy statement. Its focus is directed toward the health supervision visit. We used qualitative research to determine physicians' approaches toward obesity prevention within this visit.


Twenty-four University of Wisconsin pediatricians participated in a qualitative study consisting of data transcribed from audio-taped interviews. Open-ended questions investigated specific health supervision practices pertaining to obesity prevention, and major themes were identified.


The pediatrician's role in obesity prevention is education and detection. Pediatricians provide information on proper nutrition, physical activity, media time, and parenting skills. These pediatricians routinely discuss (1) junk food, (2) balanced diets, (3) nutritional requirements, and (4) parental techniques to promote healthy approaches to food. They discuss methods to increase physical activity and routinely recommend limitations to media time. However, only a third use body mass index (BMI) charts during their health supervision appointments and many are uncertain how to tailor guidance to children with obesity risk factors.


Pediatricians follow many of the obesity prevention guidelines. Further evidence is needed to understand the effectiveness of their education and detection methods. Potential areas for improvement include use of BMI charts and counseling with specific obesity prevention in mind.

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